Let’s continue our tour through Europe, now moving to the mid-table teams of Ligue 1.
If you haven’t read through the bottom table season awards for Ligue 1, you can find them here. Also make sure to check out the two season awards articles on the 2. Bundesliga, which you can find here and here.
13th – Montpellier HSC
The Kaiser: Jonas Omlin (GK)
Omlin was the most in-form goalkeeper this season in the Ligue 1. That is all.
Soccer player: Jordan Ferri (CDM / CM)
A far cry from his peak at Olympique Lyon, but Ferri was still the best of Montpellier’s midfield unit. Still always scanning and looking for killer balls over the top from deep.
The Bomber: Sepe Elye Wahi (ST / LW)
Montpellier’s attack was heavily handicapped by the losses of Gaëtan Laborde and Andy Delort late into the summer window, having to manage without proper replacements. However, Elye Wahi was consistently on the end of moves, scoring 10 and assisting 2 with a large chunk of his appearances coming off the bench.
Meister of the Season: Téji Savanier (CAM)
Savanier is perhaps my favorite midfielder to watch in France. In my opinion the best in the league. A shame that his and Omlin’s insane individual seasons were marred by a poor season from their teammates. 8 goals and 7 assists is a heavily unflattering number for a player like him.
12th – Stade de Reims
The Kaiser: Ghislain Konan (LB / LWB)
Konan held down the left flank extremely well, with excellent defensive positioning and aiding the attack by adding width on his side.
Football player: Marshall Munetsi (CM)
Munetsi reminded me of a certain Joshua Kimmich, pushing forward even from the 6 position and scoring. His passing and ability to influence build up may not be the same as the German, but his late runs are very reminiscent of the latter.
The Bomber: Hugo Ekitike (ST)
There’s a reason Ekitike is so coveted by Europe’s elite. Even at just 19, he has become extremely important to Stade de Reims, controlling play in the final third, offering an option in the air and overall creating a lot of trouble for defenders. 10 goals and 3 assists in 24 appearances (9 off the bench) is a return that is the hallmark of a future world class player.
Meister of the Season: Predrag Rajković (GK)
Played every single minute and almost never put a foot wrong, sometimes getting Reims points all by himself when his attackers just could not get the ball in the opposition’s net.
11th – Brestois Stadium
The Kaiser: Brendan Chardonnet (CB)
As Chardonnet goes from young exciting player to experienced leader, he continues to get better and better. This season his forward passes improved heavily, but he did not sacrifice his tackling technique and ability to read the game.
Football player: Haris Belkebla (CM / CDM)
Brest’s central midfield wasn’t the best as a unit, failing to aid the defenders when they were pressed and not really aiding the attack either. Belkebla was the best of the bunch, but not exceptional by any means. He was competent at screening and carrying the ball from the backline to the attackers.
The Bomber: Steve Mounié (ST)
Mounié had a career revival of late in France, scoring 9 and assisting 2, with his pace and physical presence allowing him to hold up the ball excellently for his partners in attack.
Meister of the Season: Franck Honorat (LM / RM)
Honorable mention to Romain Faivre, who would definitely have gotten this award if he stayed in Brest during the January window instead of leaving for Olympique Lyon. Honorat was mercurial, scoring 11 and assisting 4 making diagonal runs from either wing. While he normally preferred crossing to shooting, Honorat adapted his playstyle perfectly to his new role investigating half-spaces just behind the strikers and trying to make runs in behind center backs from those spaces.
10th – LOSC Lille
The Kaiser: Sven Botman (CB)
Lille’s disappointing season was marred with repeated defensive errors especially after the loss of Reinildo in January, but Botman managed to maintain his consistency throughout the season.
Football player: Renato Sanches (CM / CAM)
Another season awards article, another Bayern Munich alumnus performing well outside of Munich. Renato hasn’t hit the heights he did in seasons prior, but he has still been a very capable creator in the midfield, scoring 3 and assisting 5 this season.
The Bomber: Jonathan David (ST)
Lightning quick, good at pressing, and with a dangerous finishing instinct, it’s not hard to see why David is on the wishlist of so many elite European clubs. 15 goals in the league with another 3 in the Champions League round out his campaign, although his ability to play final balls must be questioned.
Meister of the Season: Benjamin André (CM)
One of the few truly complete midfielders in world football, André has established himself as one of the best midfielders in Ligue 1. Even in a season that saw great struggle, he managed to put his stamp on games with the way he controlled the middle of the pitch.
9th – FC Nantes
The Kaiser: Alban Lafont (GK)
Lafont’s status as future world class wonderkid may have rusted, but its quality has only continued to increase, quietly among teams on the fringes of continental football. Make no mistake, he is still a goalkeeping prodigy.
Soccer ball: Ludovic Blas (CAM / ST)
This one is definitely cheating but Blas contributed the most defensively out of the attacking quartet, and Nantes just had too many individually brilliant performances to fit in. Blas was key to Nantes ‘league push with 10 goals and 5 assists, but was even more important to Nantes’ fairytale run to the Coupe de France, scoring 5 goals in 4 appearances. I’ve mentioned him in an article before, specifically this Mannschaft Planen article in which I went over why Bayern Munich should purchase him as a Serge Gnabry replacement.
The Bomber: Randal Kolo Muani (ST)
Kolo Muani acted as the fulcrum of attack, swinging the ball from side to side and giving central options to overloads and generally aiding his creative cohorts. 14 goals and 4 assists are his final figures for the season.
Meister of the Season: Andrei Girotto (CB / CDM)
My favorite center back to watch in France this season, Girotto was DOMINANT. He practically never lost an aerial battle, kept pacey strikers at bay with his excellent deployment of offside traps, aided build up by acting basically as a midfield pivot for the full backs and central midfielders to play off of, and to cap it all off he was a set piece threat too, scoring 6 goals along with an assist.
8th – RC Lens
The Kaiser: Jonathan Gradit (CB)
Lens play a fast-paced style similar to Clermont, however their players are a lot more experienced and accomplished. Gradit was possibly the most under-appreciated player in the system. Without him, midfielders would not have the license they do to get forward. It is his quality in defense that allowed it.
Soccer player: Seko Fofana (CM)
Fofana, alongside Przemyslaw Frankowski, was given license to bomb forward thanks to Gradit and his defensive partners’ quality, and it paid dividends. Fofana is my favored option as he started every game and did play slightly better in terms of box-to-box contribution rather than purely attacking, where Frankowski did slightly outclass him. Fofana would score 8 and assist 1 while Frankowski scored 6 and assisted 5.
The Bomber: Florian Sotoca (ST / CAM)
Sotoca’s positional fluidity and ability to adapt was key to Lens’ attacking play. With Fofana and Frankowski pushing from deep, Sotoca’s role became more facilitating their late runs than trying to always fashion chances for himself. This involved sometimes dropping to play as a 10 or false 9, and even playing in the center of midfield a couple times (he was fantastic). 6 goals and 4 assists is a very good haul for a player in his role.
Meister of the Season: Jonathan Clauss (RM / RWB)
God, Clauss is so good. He just is. One of the best wing backs in Europe. 5 goals and 11 assists is an insane return, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Great tracking back and reading of the game. Great at putting balls into dangerous areas while cutting in from the right flank. Great at crossing from wide or even putting long balls up the field. Great at shooting from distance. Free kick taker. Hold up play. He can do it all.
7th – Olympique Lyon
The Kaiser: Castello Lukeba (CB)
Displacing Jérôme Boateng in the starting XI, Lukeba had a great debut season, making key tackles and blocks throughout the season.
Soccer ball: Lucas Paquetá (CAM)
Paquetá does track back a lot for a 10, so I think I’m justified in classifying him as a midfielder. Of course Paquetá’s true talent lies going forward, and the numbers show that with 11 goals and 7 assists for Lyon this season.
The Bomber: Karl Toko-Ekambi (LW)
Toko-Ekambi formed a great partnership on the left with honorable mention Emerson Palmieri on the left wing. Toko-Ekambi stayed narrower and became a more direct goal threat, and his numbers show that: 18 goals and 7 assists.
Meister of the Season: Moussa Dembélé (ST)
After a thoroughly disappointing season on loan at Atlético Madrid, Dembélé returned to Lyon with a vengeance, scoring 22 and assisting 5. Unfortunately for him the rest of the team would not have the same hunger for a lot of the season.
What do you make of Lille and Lyon’s disappointing seasons? What of my player picks, are there any you would have changed? Let us know in the forum below.